Wang Yuanyuan, Artistic Director
"The dancers' athleticism and flexibility were remarkable."--The Washington Post
"One of China's most famous ballet directors is testing the very limits of the country's straight-laced attitudes."--The Daily Telegraph (London)
Following its sensational 2011 Kennedy Center debut with Haze, which linked pollution with spiritual confusion, one of China's foremost contemporary dance companies returns with another larger-than-life work by Artistic Director Wang Yuanyuan. Inspired by a collection of prose poetry of the same name by renowned Chinese writer Lu Xun, Beijing Dance Theater's newest work Wild Grass translates three of Xun's most evocative essays into mesmerizing dance.
The work begins with Dead Fire, in which dancers dressed in red, white, and black maneuver their way through an abstract world of melting icebergs, scattered leaves, and a yellow moon to the soft rhythms of a piano. The second movement, The Shadow's Leave-Taking, casts female dancers "as puppets or robots, controlled by male dancers before their bodies were set free" (Creative Asia), all performed to a techno music score. In the last section, Dance of Extremity, black-clad dancers are dragged onstage by other members of the ensemble, accompanied by a violin and cello duet. According to Yuan Yuan Wang, the three movements together explore our continuous struggle to survive with what we've been given.
Wang Yuanyuan is internationally renowned for her bold choreographic style; among her most celebrated works are the ballet adaptation of the Zhang Yimou film Raise the Red Lantern, which had its U.S. premiere at the Kennedy Center with the National Ballet of China in 2005, as part of the China Festival. She also choreographed for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. She sets the hypnotic world of Wild Grass to music by Su Cong, the first Chinese artist to win an Academy Award for Best Original Music, for the 1987 film The Last Emperor.
Free Explore the Arts Post-Performance Discussion
Wednesday, October 22
Performance Timing: Movement 1 - 23 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Movement 2 - 20 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Movement 3 - 23 min.
Official Website of Beijing Dance Theater
Watch and Listen
Beijing Dance Theater: Wild Grass Excerpt (Dance of Extremity)
Beijing Dance Theater: Wild Grass Excerpt (Dead Fire)
Beijing Dance Theater: Wild Grass Excerpt (The Shadow’s Leave-taking)
International Programming at the Kennedy Center is made possible through the generosity of the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.
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